The affluence of James Merrill's background—his father was a founder of the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch—allowed him a lifetime of leisure in which to travel, refine his sensibility and polish his poetic technique. The result is a body of careful work dazzling in its variety, wit, and inventiveness. Invariably sparkling on its surface, his poetry also has its depths and shadows, for Merrill suffered his share of heartbreak and loss. Among his most notable achievements is The Changing Light at Sandover, a multipart epic that uses a ouija board as a modern-day oracle.
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